Good news from Romania: 21 positive stories of 2021
With the pandemic still dominating our lives, 2021 was quite difficult. But lots of positive things also happened this year, including in Romania. We're focusing on the good in this article, with a selection of 21 positive stories that made the headlines here at Romania-insider.com in business, politics, social or culture.
In the business section, one of the first good news of 2021 arrived in April when UiPath, the biggest robotic processing automation (RPA) company in the world and the first Romanian unicorn, listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. An excellent achievement for a Romania-born company that started in a small apartment in Bucharest in 2005.
Then, in early autumn, Romanian car manufacturer Dacia (part of French group Renault) unveiled its new seven-seater family car named Jogger. And the new car, presented as the longest vehicle in the Dacia range, is expected to also get a hybrid engine in 2023.
Somewhat unexpected but welcome news came in October when Moody's unexpectedly changed from negative to stable the outlook on the Government of Romania. Not everything in the report was positive, but the story still made the headlines locally, especially as the country was going through a period of political instability.
Another positive announcement came from the central bank BNR. On the National Day of Romania, celebrated on December 1, the institution put into circulation a new banknote of RON 20. But that was not all. The really good news was that the new note is the first in Romania to feature a female personality - Ecaterina Teodoroiu, a heroine of Romania who fought and died in World War I (WWI).
In the social category, two different rankings found both Bucharest and Romania to be among the world's best destinations for remote working. First, CircleLoop ranked Romania third in its Digital Nomad Index, after Canada and the UK. It said that the country is one of the fastest-growing information technology markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Plus, it offers cheap and reliable internet.
Then, months later, vacation search engine Holidu.co.uk placed Bucharest ninth in its Workation Index. It said: "Romania's vibrant and busy capital has seen a big come-back in recent years, and has a lot to offer to remote workers: one of the fastest Wi-Fi speeds in the world at 54 Mbps, cheap taxi fares at GBP 0.35 per km on average and two pints of local beer at around GBP 2.78 – bargain!"
Locals from a small town in Brasov county also managed to do something great this year: they raised EUR 90,000 to help reopen the local hospital, which had stayed closed for more than ten years. They also did volunteer work at the hospital, helping with the interior renovation, while local entrepreneurs donated building materials, furniture, or appliances.
Another good news came in December, when the Christmas market in Craiova, in Dolj county, southwestern Romania, was selected among the best in Europe. The Romanian city gathered enough votes from travellers to rank sixth in a top made by the European Best Destinations.
Many things happened in the political area this year, but probably the only good news arrived at the end of November when the country finally installed a new government after months of political crisis. Although formed by a rather unpopular coalition of the Liberals and Social Democrats, having a government is a positive thing when so much is going on.
In sports, one of the year's biggest events was the UEFA EURO 2020 competition. And Bucharest was one of the host cities, with three group games and one round of 16 game being played in the Romanian capital in June.
Also in summer, the Tokyo Olympics held the headlines. Team Romania gathered one gold medal and three silver medals at the global competition, ranking 46th in the medal table.
In September, Emma Raducanu wrote history in tennis as she won the US Open title at the age of 18. She thus became the youngest grand slam champion in 17 years and the first British woman to win a grand slam title since Virginia Wade's Wimbledon victory in 1977. And, given her Romanian origins (her father is Romanian), the story was also widely covered in Romania.
Another Romanian athlete who made the news this year is swimmer David Popovici. At age 16, he was the youngest athlete on Team Romania at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Also in 2021, he broke the European junior record in the 200m Freestyle at the European Junior Swimming Championships in Rome. Earlier in November, he won the gold medal in the men's 200m freestyle event at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia. Plus, the same month, he was named best young European athlete in summer sports.
Another Romanian who got international recognition this year is doctor Catalin Denciu, who suffered severe burns after trying to save several COVID-19 patients from the fire that broke at Piatra-Neamt county hospital in 2020. For this brave deed, in May this year, he received the WHO Director-General's Award for Global Health.
Also in the people category, Romanian born researcher and MIT professor Daniela Rus was added to Forbes' list of women shaping the future of science, tech and art. Meanwhile, Laura Codruta Kovesi, the former head of Romania's Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) and the current head of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), was included in Politico's annual ranking of the most influential people in Europe.
In the culture section, the best news of the year hit the media in July: the historic site of Rosia Montana, a gold mining site dating back to the period of the Roman Empire, was included on UNESCO's world heritage list. The site was also added to the list of world heritage in danger.
On the same note, in November, Cluj-Napoca, home to the largest film festival in the country, Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF), has joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) as a Creative City of Film.
Two other news made the headlines in 2021 in the film category. The first one arrived in March, announcing that Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc/ Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, the latest film of Romanian director Radu Jude, won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale. Then, another Romanian movie won international recognition: Alexander Nanau's documentary Colectiv/Collective, about the journalistic investigation that followed the fire at Colectiv club in Bucharest in October 2015, won the 2021 LUX Audience Award.
And, last but not least, the restored Wooden Church of Ursi Village, in Romania's Valcea county, was the big winner of the 2021 European Heritage Awards/Europa Nostra Awards, Europe's top honour in the field. The small wooden church's rehabilitation project received a Grand Prix and the Public Choice Award.
(Photo source: Stevanovicigor/Dreamstime.com)